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Combat Care brings holiday cheer to Andrews families

ANDREWS AFB, Md. -- Denise A. Carter's daughter, Angel, 8, sat quietly at a large table as she made a picture frame during the Combat Care Holiday Event Sunday afternoon at the Andrews Youth Center.

Angel's brother, Christian, 2, received help with his picture frame from his mother. Mrs. Carter stood behind the children as she tried to decorate Christian's picture frame while holding 2-month-old Bryson.

Each picture frame contained a photo of one of Mrs. Carter's children with Santa Claus, which were sent with a colored cutout ornament and greeting cards to Tech. Sgt. Glenn M. Carter, 316th Security Forces Squadron flight chief, who has been deployed to Iraq since the end of July.

The Carters were among approximately 100 family members of deployed Andrews servicemembers who attended the Combat Care Holiday Event. The Airman and Family Readiness Center and the 316th Services Squadron sponsored the event, which also included 34 volunteers to assist the families.

Mrs. Carter said she not only takes care of her children, but she also works part time in the collections department at Doctors Community Hospital in Lanham, Md.

"Working and taking care of the kids make the time go faster while my husband is deployed," she said.

The Combat Care events are held quarterly at Andrews to provide various activities for families of deployed servicemembers. Sunday's Combat Care event gave families an opportunity to make a variety of holiday items for their loves ones who won't be home for the holidays.

"Any time there are activities on base, I get my kids involved in them," said Mrs. Carter.
Stacy A. Curcio brought her daughter, Chesney, 4, to the Combat Care Holiday Event to do something together away from home. Mrs. Curcio's husband, Staff Sgt. Michael R. Curcio, the 316th Logistics Readiness Squadron Body Shop NCOIC, left September for a deployment to Iraq.

Mrs. Curcio said she knows what it's like to be a deployed servicemember. She was an Active Duty member deployed to Iraq in 2003 and separated from the Air Force in March as a Senior Airman after six years of military service. The family has lived here since April.

"Being the spouse of a deployed servicemember is the hardest thing in the Air Force," said Mrs. Curcio. "The spouse has to be both mom and dad to the children."
Chesney realized there are other families of deployed servicemembers when she and Mrs. Curcio attended the Combat Care event here in October.

"Chesney understands her daddy is in Iraq," said Mrs. Curcio. "She knows it's hot there, and there are people helping to keep her daddy safe."

Kandra D. Allen brought her sons, Jakob, 4, and Brayden, 1, to the Combat Care Holiday Event to be around other children whose parents are deployed. Staff Sgt. Jeffrey P. Allen, 316th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter, left Labor Day for a deployment to southwest Asia.

"There are many activities for the children," said Mrs. Allen. "It's great to get out the house."

Joining in all the activities at Sunday's event was Melissa J. Barczik, who made the picture frame, ornament and greeting card for her husband, Staff Sgt. Michael Barczik, 316 SFS protective service team member, and has been deployed since September.
The couple have a cat and dog, but no children. However, Mrs. Barczik isn't deprived of human companionship. Her former next-door neighbors on base, Staff Sgt. Brett A. Newton, the 79th Aeromed-ical Staging Flight aeromedical evacuation clerk, and his family, make certain she is involved in activities with them, such as attending Combat Care events.

"I think Combat Care is a great idea," said Mrs. Barczik. "People of deployed servicemembers can get depressed during the holidays."

Mrs. Barczik accompanied Mrs. Newton and her daughter, Rachel, 13, and son, Derrick, 11, to the Combat Care Holiday Event.

The making of picture frames, ornaments and greeting cards was among the activities at the Combat Care Holiday Event. There was also a performance by Performance Productions from Clinton, Md., at the youth center, followed by the arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus on a fire truck. Santa had his photo taken with the children. Children were given the photos to place in the picture frames they made for their deployed parents.

The input of base members helped to make the Combat Care Holiday Event a huge success, said Doris Tyler, A&FRC community readiness consultant. Mrs. Tyler coordinated the Combat Care Holiday Event with Vince O. Eure, Andrews Youth Center director.
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